Burglars’ favourites – the most popular items stolen in home burglaries and how you can keep them safe
When burglars target a home, they aren’t usually looking for a snack from your kitchen – although some have been caught for doing precisely that, like the burglar who drank a can of Coke and left his DNA on it.
No, most burglars are looking for valuable belongings that they can easily carry and easily sell. The majority of home burglaries are over in less than 10 minutes and the emphasis is on getting away with small items.
Obviously the best thing to do is to prevent burglaries from happening in the first place, by deterring criminals from your home – a working alarm system is often cited by burglars as their number one reason for not breaking into a house.
But some burglars are either too reckless, too desperate or just too stupid to think things through – like the thieves who spray-painted their own names on the wall of a house they were burgling. Even for homeowners with a highly secure property, it’s worthwhile taking precautions to keep your most valuable items safe by hiding them wherever possible.
What are the main items you should hide?
The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales show that in 2015 there were just under 200,000 domestic burglaries. This is what was stolen most often:
- Jewellery (including watches): stolen in 43% of burglaries
- Purses and wallets, or just cash: 38%
- Computers – mostly laptops: 34%
- Cameras, MP3 players, TVs, stereos and other electrical equipment: 19%
- Mobile phones: 13%
- Clothes: 9%
- Food, perfumes, cigarettes: 8%
- Bags like handbags or briefcases: 8%
- Furniture: 6%
- Documents like passports and financial information, house keys or car keys: 5%
Very high value possessions
Anyone who has taken a holiday and stayed in a hotel will probably have seen a safe in their room, often hidden inside a cupboard. Yet it’s rare for people to install safes in their own home, perhaps because they believe it needs to be placed into a wall behind a picture, like in cartoons, or be a waist high metal monster that would take over the bedroom. This seems like an oversight. It’s possible to buy a small safe for less than £50 – far less than the cost of replacing stolen items or even the excess on a home insurance policy claim.
A small safe is easily enough space to keep a few very high value possessions that are used only occasionally: expensive jewellery, purses or cash that you don’t carry around with you every day, and passports or other valuable documents which a clever thief – there are some – could use to steal your identity or raid your bank accounts.
One of the things that victims of burglaries often mention is the chaos that comes after the break-in. Documents and belongings are strewn everywhere, often as a distraction tactic to make it harder to identify what has been stolen. Replacing things like passports, driving licences, house deeds and education certificates is a nightmare that can take months or even years.
It’s important to remember that to be effective a safe needs to be bolted securely to a wall or floor so that it can’t be removed easily without being opened. And it’s also better to keep it out of sight so that the burglars looking to get in and out quickly don’t even see it.
While safes are good for some items, things that you use every day, or are bit bulky, present a different problem. Home security needs to be realistic – it’s no use promising yourself that you’ll pack up your laptop, your wallet, your car keys, your mobile phone and your handbag into the safe whenever you go to bed, or go out.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything though. A laptop can be tethered to a desk, like the one which a thief on a moped failed to grab from a restaurant. Other pocket items like MP3 players and wallets can be kept in a drawer, maybe in the living room or kitchen, and you can get into the habit of putting them there when you come in – the other advantage is that you’ll know where it is when you go out.
Car keys and house keys are other items that you don’t want to be stolen – even if loading up a van is rare, you don’t want it to happen to you. Police advise against leaving car keys or house keys in your hallway. Burglars can use hooks to snare keys through a letterbox – fitting a letterbox cover or grille is one solution, but a better one is to simply keep your keys out of sight in another room, like the kitchen.
Review your security
Perhaps the best way to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your home and your possessions safe is to book a security review with Verisure. Our experts will give you tailor-made advice on how you can upgrade your security both inside and outside – give us a call today.